The small queen palm tree (Syagrus romanzoffiana) attains a height of 50 feet but is often grown as a small container palm. The trunk appears smooth and gray, marred only be perfectly spaced leaf scars. The fronds are dark green and offer a feathery appearance. Large infloresences appear during the summer months and look similar to a huge white feather dangling from the tree. After flowering, brilliant orange, 6-foot groups of date palms adorn the tree.
The small queen palm is native to Paraguay, Brazil and north Argentina. The tree flourishes in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9b to 11. The tree is exceptionally popular in Central Florida, according to Floridata.
The small queen palm can withstand temperatures that dip to 25 degrees F before sustaining damage. If the temperature dips to 20 degrees F the tree will quickly die. The hybrid X Butiarecastrum, a cross between Syagrus romanzoffiana and Butia capitata, offers exceptional cold hardiness and will thrive in zones 8 to 9, unlike its parent tree.
Soil and Light Requirements
The small queen palm grows well in sandy soil. It will tolerate other soil types but does not grow as well. The tree prefers moist soil but is capable of withstanding short times of drought. Small queen palms grows best in full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade.
Frizzle top occurs when the small queen palm suffers a deficiency in manganese. The leaves of the palm appear torn and ragged. A small queen palm requires adequate manganese to thrive. Annual applications will prevent and treat the condition.
The tree propagates easily from seeds. Germination occurs in only three to four months when the seed comes into contact with soil. Many small queen palms have smaller trees growing at their base from seed germination. The seedlings are ideal to dig up and transplant. The small queen palm grows well in containers or small pots for use on patios.
Ganoderma butt rot fungus (Ganoderma zonatum) enters the queen palm through wounds sustained at its base from mechanical cultivation or other means. The fungus causes rot to occur in the first 4 to 5 feet of the tree's trunk. The queen palm will begin to show wilting and decline in its foliage until death results. There is no cure for the fungus, only prevention. Refrain from damaging the trunk or base of the queen palm during cultivation so the fungus has no entry point.
Scales cause unsightly spots to occur on the queen palms stems and foliage. Control using horticultural oil. The palm-leaf skeletonizer moths' larvae cause widespread defoliation of the queen palm if allowed to progress uncontrolled. Once larvae of the palm-leaf skeletonizer are detected, wash the tree using a burst of high pressure water to gain control of the small insects. They easily wash away from the foliage with water.